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Ray  Suarez

Ray Suarez

Veteran NPR and PBS Journalist & Author, Latino Americans


In September 2017, veteran journalist Ray Suarez began an appointment as the McCloy Visiting Professor of American Studies at Amherst College. He was most recently the host of Al Jazeera America’s daily news program, Inside Story. The program covered a wide array of national and international news stories, from the rise of Donald Trump to long-term unemployment to the Russian seizure of the Crimean peninsula to the arrival of the zika virus on US soil. Read More >

Before coming to AJAM, Suarez spent 14 years as a correspondent and anchor at public television’s nightly newscast, The PBS NewsHour, where he rose to become chief national correspondent. During his years at The NewsHour, Suarez covered the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, four presidential elections, reported from the floor of seven party political conventions, moderated two presidential primary candidates’ debates, reported from the devastating Haitian earthquake, the 2006 Mexico elections, the H1N1 virus pandemic in Mexico, and the explosion of tuberculosis/HIV co-infection in South Africa among hundreds of others.

Suarez came to The NewsHour from six-and-a-half years as the Washington-based host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation. During his time as host, the program’s carriage more than doubled to more than 150 radio stations, and the audience more than tripled in size. The New York Times called Suarez the “thinking man’s talk show host,” and “a national resource.” The magazine Utne Reader called him a “visionary.” Talk of the Nation made history, broadcasting live coast to coast across South Africa and across the United States, connecting these two audiences to talk about the post-apartheid future during the first elections after liberation. During Northern Ireland’s first Christmas in peace after decades of The Troubles, Talk of the Nation became the first radio program ever simulcast over Ireland’s RTE, Britain’s BBC, and NPR in the United States.

Along with his years of daily deadline journalism, Suarez has done extensive work in long-form broadcast storytelling. He was the on-camera narrator and co-writer of Jerusalem: The Center of the World (PBS, 2008). He hosted and reported the documentary on the rise of worldwide viral illness, Anatomy of a Pandemic (PBS, 2009), hosted Homeland, the public television series on illegal immigration (PBS/KETC), narrated National Geographic’s nature series Animal Genius, hosted a series of programs on end of life decision-making With Our Eyes Open (KQED, 2000), and a multi-year series on American democracy, By The People (MacNeil/Lehrer Productions 2002-04). Suarez hosted the long-running foreign policy documentary series America Abroad on public radio, the weekly Latino politics program Destination Casa Blanca for HITN-TV, and the radio documentary series American Radio Works, syndicated nationwide by American Public Media.

In 2004, and again in 2008, Suarez moderated presidential candidates debates broadcast on PBS and HDnet.

Earlier in his career, Suarez was a general assignment reporter for the NBC owned-and-operated WMAQ-TV in Chicago, a Los Angeles Correspondent for CNN, a producer for the ABC Radio Network in New York, and a reporter for various British and US outlets in London and Rome. During his years in Europe he covered the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II and the trial of his assailant Mehmet Ali Agca, the release of 52 American hostages from Iran, the rise of the Solidarity trade union movement in Poland, and the wedding of Britain’s Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.

During his decades as a broadcaster, Suarez also did extensive work as a writer. He wrote the 2013 companion volume to the PBS documentary series, Latino Americans. In 2005 he published an examination of the tightening relationship between religion and electoral politics, The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America. His first book looked at the decades of transition in urban America, The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration (Free Press, 1999).

His writing has also been included in many other books, including  The Good Fight: America’s Ongoing Struggle for Justice (Against All Odds, 2017), What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs (New Village Press, 2010), How I Learned English: 55 Accomplished Latinos Recall Lessons in Language and Life (National Geographic, 2007), Brooklyn: A State of Mind (Workman, 2000), Saving America’s Treasures (National Geographic, 2000), and Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories (Vintage, 1998), among others. Suarez also wrote the entry on religion and politics for the Oxford Companion to American Politics published in 2012.

Over the years many organizations and institutions have recognized and honored Suarez and his work. He was a co-recipient of two DuPont-Columbia Silver Baton awards at NPR, for coverage of the 1994 South African elections, and the Gingrich Revolution and the 1995 Republican takeover in the US House of Representatives. UCLA’s School of Public Policy awarded Suarez its Public Policy Leadership Award for his coverage of urban America, and his coverage of global public health has won national and international citations, including the Edwin Hood Award for Diplomatic Reporting from the National Press Club, a national Emmy nomination, and nine CINE Golden Eagle Awards. The National Council of La Raza gave Suarez its Ruben Salazar Award, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists inducted him into the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2010.

As a Media Fellow, he has been a frequent presenter, speaker, and moderator at the World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, Switzerland. He has also been a featured speaker at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Suarez holds a BA in African History, from New York University, where he won the Parke Honor in History and the K.Y. Daaku Prize in African Studies. He began his studies at the University of Chicago after winning a Benton Fellowship there in 1991, and later completed an MA in the Social Sciences. In 2005 NYU named Suarez a Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Arts and Sciences. He holds 14 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across America.

An active layman in the Episcopal Church, Suarez has also been a sought-after writer and speaker on religious topics. He most recently published a series of devotional texts for the Christian season of Advent in Soul Proclamations (Forward, 2015). His essays on the Gospel’s Passion narratives were included in A Journey With Matthew: The 50-Day Bible Challenge. He has lectured at national and diocesan meetings of the Episcopal Church, and currently serves as a member of The Chapter, the board of trustees of Washington National Cathedral.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Suarez lives in Amherst, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. He and his wife Carole are parents to two adult children, and a second-year college student. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

How Latino Americans Shaped the U.S., Fought for Acceptance

2021 Commencement Speech Longwood University

Cover America Like a Foreign Country

The Impact of Religion in Politics

The Next America

Truth vs Feelings

Speech Topics

America 2.0

The US Census Bureau projects that sometime in the mid-2040s a majority of Americans will trace their ancestry to Africa, Asia, and Latin America rather than to Europe. You might have predicted one kind of cultural shift in November, 2008 when Barack Obama was elected, and find yourself anticipating a different march to that next America today, with President Trump in the Oval Office. Americans under- and oversell how the country will change when this historic shift occurs. I’ll take you on a tour of that next America, and how we get there.

Fake News!

Who do you believe? How do you make up your mind what’s happening in the country? For much of the last century, the American news business was a model for the rest of the world. American reporting was diverse, free, unregulated and guided by an evolving set of professional norms that gave it great credibility. What happened? Public confidence in the news business has cratered, and a parallel business has risen to become its rival, filled with invention, lies, distortion and the quiet goal of sowing confusion and continuing doubt that what is reported is true. It’s been a surprising, and destructive march from The Pentagon Papers to Woodward and Bernstein to the Wild West of information.

The Things I Thought About When My Body Was Surviving Cancer

Every year, 100,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed, sending people’s lives into a whirlwind as they begin treatment and come to terms with their illness. Ray Suarez’s cancer diagnosis propelled him through a cycle of emotions. Anger, sadness, tranquility and dissociation made Suarez wonder if the mind and body were connected. Did his life really belong to him? Suarez grappled with these questions and thoughts as he asserted himself over a disease that seemed impossible to control. In this honest and vulnerable talk, he shares his cancer journey and survivorship, inspiring audiences to reevaluate the meaning of life.

The New Secular America

Americans are, and have been for generations, the most religious people in the wealthy, industrial West. But with each new year, more Americans are dropping away from congregational and religious affiliation, and they’re doing it as a speed never before seen in our history. What’s happening inside American religion? Is this is a blip, or just a delayed trip to where our European cousins have been for decades? A more secular America will force changes in our politics, our culture, our charitable sector, and not least…a big change in who we think we are as a people.

The Midterms & Beyond

The opening shot in the 2020 Elections came in the first week of November, 2018 with the historic midterm elections. What did the balloting tell us about the shape of the knock-down, drag-out fight for the White House next time around? In a challenging, and humorous way, we’ll take the audience out for a run through the changes already under way shaping coming American elections.